& the digital humanities
Helen J Burgess
“Cyborg politics is the
struggle for language and
the struggle against perfect
communication, against the
one code that translates all
-- Donna Haraway
Small tent: TEI, working with manuscripts and
Big tent: data and text mining, visualization,
electronic scholarship and editorial work
Circus tent: e-lit, art installations, critical making,
experiments with electronics
Technical & advisory editor, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging
Knowledge. [ rhizomes.net ]
Editor, Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures. [ hyperrhiz.net ]
Red Planet: Scientific & Cultural Encounters with Mars. 2000, DVD-Rom.
Biofutures: Owning Body Parts & Information. 2008, DVD-Rom.
Highways of the Mind. 2014, interactive iBook.
Medium: (nonneutral) transportation mechanism for
conveyance of information. Concerned with technological
underpinnings of expression.
Modality: mode of expression (what senses are you engaging?
Touch? Vision? Aural?). Utilizing multiple media but also
concerned with process & composing choices.
“… we’re entering a time when sound, light and
movement are equally important parts of the
creative palette. Everyday objects whose
expressive elements have long been static will
now glow, sing, vibrate and change position at
the drop of a hat.”
(NYT, Carla Diana, “Talking, Walking Objects,” Jan. 26 2013.)
Small tent - how can it be preserved?
Big tent - how can it be interrogated?
Circus tent - how can it be other?
How can scholarship be “other,” using
How can a text be “other” than what it is?
(Edgar Barrier of
Mercury Theater, the
voice of the Polyrhetor.
Who wouldn’t trust a
voice that looked like
Artist’s model of a “Turing machine,” Mike Davey
“Presumably the child brain is something like
a notebook as one buys it from the
stationer's. Rather little mechanism, and lots
of blank sheets. (Mechanism and writing are
from our point of view almost synonymous.)”
[Turing, A.M. (1950). Computing
machinery and intelligence. Mind, 59, 433-
Each chapter contains
Read by chapter or
by individual thread
-- documents and film showing the
world’s fair and futurama exhibits
-- 3D printable model cars from the
-- model of the Polyrhetor, sound
-- chair and speaker to simulate the oral
-- maps and diorama models of the
spaces of the fair
-- Google API maps of the interstate
system over time
-- electronic workbench for assembling
different interactive devices
“Significantly, what artists say and write about their
own work remains an area of considerable
controversy, especially among practicing artists: the
modernist proposition of art speaking for itself lingers
as a deeply-held, shared assumption for many, even
those working within a postmodern aesthetic.”
--W.F. Garrett-Petts and Rachel Nash
Search online for information about yourself
and your demographic; create a meaningful
biography from that information.
1) Content analysis
2) Narrative & metaphor
3) Distal (far) and proximal (near) sources
The assignment: create a biography of a
famous person using no words.
Key concept: “dimensionality” (Edward Tufte).
Skill: layering and separation of information
into different dimensions in the project.
Genre of writing: ekphrasis.
A four-part assignment sequence in which a
Shakespearean sonnet is reinterpreted in
various forms according to the prompt:
1) Visual imagery
2) Sonnet structure & scansion
3) Encoding and decoding with a key
4) A “kit” for assembling a version of the
sonnet with a program, recipe or other kind
of instructional document.
Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy;
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find.
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert:
Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.
Installation project on cryptography and
secret writing: “The Numbers Stations.”
Hyperrhiz 13: Special Issue: “Objects.”
Teaching: implementing “kits for culture” in
While “multimedia” is used more frequently in public/industry contexts, “multimodal” is preferred in the ﬁeld of composition and rhetoric. This preference for terms can be best explained by understanding the differences in how texts are valued and evaluated in these contexts. “Multimodal” is a term valued by instructors because of its emphasis on design and process, whereas “multimedia” is valued in the public sphere because of its emphasis on the production of a deliverable text. (Claire Lauer)